Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Unlike most normal, dessert-loving Americans - I do not really like cheesecake. I like the first 1, maybe 2 bites but after that it's just too dense and thick and (without a thorough smothering of fruit sauce) blah to me.

However I really like Japanese/Asian cheesecake which is an entirely different confection. Japanese cheesecake doesn't have the shortbread or graham cracker crust at the bottom. It's very light and soft and not dense like the American one. It's actually not all that cheesey - more like cream cheese flavored sponge cake.

American Cheesecake:
richly sweet
dense and heavy
lip-smackingly thick

Japanese Cheesecake:
light and airy
barely sweet
almost melts in your mouth

I had a wonderful piece last month, at a high end Japanese restaurant here in the Bay Area and have been thinking about trying my hand at it ever since. I found a couple recipes online and decided to try one on Eupho Café. Only 1 package of cream cheese, but with SEVEN egg yolks (yikes!) and the most interesting ingredient: there's no flour in this cheesecake at all - it's ....... CORNSTARCH! This totally fascinated me. The cornstarch gives the cake a very airy almost cotton candy type texture. It makes it feel like teeny-tiny bubbles popping in your mouth. I love it! The cake itself is really not very sweet - not sweet enough at least, for my very sweet tooth. So I topped it with some melted raspberry jam and it was perfect!

I actually made this cake last week and attempted to swirl in some green tea - I took out 1/4-1/3 of the cheesecake batter before pouring it into the springform, added 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder, put it into a pastry bag with a #3 tip (the batter is incredibly runny), then piped circles and swirls of the green tea batter into the top half of the cheesecake. That's the picture in the middle. It was good but definitely needed to be sweeter with the addition of the subtly bitter tea (and no extra sweetener like the jam).

Mmmm - Japanese cheesecake; Topped with raspberry jam and swirled with green tea...

Along with my perhaps best batch of macarons to date, I took this to my friend's place for a small dinner party last night. Another guest generously offered up that this was "the best cheesecake" he'd ever eaten. Either he doesn't get out much or I'm not the only one who really enjoys this very light version of an American favorite.

And did you know - when Japanese folks get ready to take a picture - they exclaim "cheese": "Chiizu!"

1 comment:

  1. Oh I must try this- it sounds amazing!
    I am loving looking through your posts- they're beautiful!